Rollup Protocol

The Nautilus rollup is a first-of-its-kind architecture.

There are two ideas that make Nautilus work:

  1. Optimistic rollups

  2. Sovereign rollups

Nautilus is an optimistic EVM rollup using the Eclipse sovereign settlement layer. For a more detailed technical explanation of how the Nautilus chain works, refer to the Eclipse developer docs.

In this article, we'll explain how optimistic rollups work, how sovereign rollups work, and finally why we picked this architecture over all others.

Blockchain Architecture Fundamentals

A typical blockchain (or "rollup") engages in the following functions:

  • Execution: computing the state of the blockchain after ingesting transactions

  • Settlement (for rollups): verifying the correctness of execution and bridging

  • Consensus & data availability: establishing the ordering of transactions

We refer to the Eclipse glossary for a more complete list of terms.

Optimistic Rollups

At a high level, rollups execute transactions and separately must "settle" that execution to verify that the execution was correct.

There are two types of settlement: optimistic or zero-knowledge. An optimistic rollup periodically posts the result of transactions to some settlement layer along with a bounty. If a challenger correctly asserts that the execution was invalid, the challenger receives some (or all) of the bounty. The settlement layer must have some method of determining whether a challenge is correct or not.

We won't go into zero-knowledge settlement in these docs.

Sovereign Rollups

A "smart contract rollup" like Optimism or Arbitrum settles to some set of smart contracts on a Layer 1 blockchain like Ethereum. By contrast, "sovereign rollups" don't require such smart contracts to perform settlement. Instead, sovereign rollups like the Eclipse settlement layer circulate fraud proofs directly to light clients. If the majority of Eclipse becomes dishonest, these circulated fraud proofs ensure that an honest minority can still maintain the integrity of the chain.

Block Production

Nautilus block production is primarily managed by a single party, called the "sequencer," which helps the network by providing the following services:

  • Providing transaction confirmations and state updates

  • Constructing and executing rollup blocks

  • Posting rollup blocks to the settlement layer, where they are passed to the consensus layer

For the moment, the Eclipse team runs the only block producer for Nautilus. Refer to the Eclipse documentation for more information on how they plan to decentralize the Sequencer role in the future.


Between Nautilus and other Eclipse chains, all bridging is "trust-minimized," meaning that there are almost no additional trust assumptions imposed when you bridge money. We use inter-blockchain communication (IBC) to bridge between Nautilus and other Eclipse chains.

For bridging between Nautilus and arbitrary chains, we plan to enable IBC for trust-minimized bridging to Cosmos chains and Hyperlane for fast-finality bridging.

Fault Proofs

For Nautilus, state commitments are published to Eclipse without any proof of the validity of these commitments. For some period of time (the "challenge period"), the transactions are not considered finalized. During this time, verifiers can re-execute the transactions and dispute the transaction on the Eclipse settlement layer, called a "fault proof." After the challenge period is over, transactions can no longer be disputed.

Fraud proofs have not yet been decentralized for the Nautilus chain.

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